In all the busyness of my final few days before maternity leave, I didn’t manage to write anything last week, and as the blog may go a bit quiet for the next few months while I try to get to grips with motherhood, I wanted to get in at least one more post.
Revive marked the start of my maternity leave on Sunday by making me the subject of our regular sentness, taking the opportunity to ask me a few questions and pray for me. It was a real blessing and a wonderful way to be sent out to begin this new chapter (plus I first met Revive at the May sentness last year, so it seemed a particularly appropriate time to stop and reflect on this last chapter) so I’ve thought some more about the questions from Sunday and answered them again here.
How has the last year been?
It has been the most incredible adventure. September was particularly eventful, as in the space of two weeks Mike and I moved house and discovered we were expecting our first baby, and I started my training with Revive and St Barnabas, setting us up for a very exciting year.
We have both felt so at home in Revive right from the start that being here feels less like working for a placement and more like having the great honour of serving our church. That is such a great blessing, and we can’t thank you enough for accepting us and our unexpected interruption with such open hearts and making this first year such a joy.
What have been the highlights?
At the risk of it sounding like things have gone downhill from there (which they haven’t!) the weekend away back in October was great. It was perfect timing for us, coming just a month after we joined Revive, as it gave us time to spend getting to know people, which was wonderful. We really enjoyed having a houseful for pancake day too, and we hope to open up our house even more as we settle into life with baby and get on a more even keel.
More generally, having come from a fairly traditional church set up, Mike and I have both loved discovering a more informal way of doing things, especially drawing on the wisdom of the community in prayer and worship and discussion. I think we’re already dreading the prospect of returning to a world of hymn books and flower rotas!
The plan is for me to take an extended summer break, and be back training and studying in September. I know it’s not long to take off, but it took a good eight years of God nagging to get me here, and I feel like I’m in the right place at the right time, so it feels like we need to give it a shot. Mike will tell you that I am normally a worrier, but I trust that God will walk with us as we work things out, and I feel confident that everything will fall into place.
There are a few ideas for things I may do when I come back, one of which is something like Cafe Theologique for teenagers. I know that as a teenager I had loads of questions that there never seemed to be a good time or place to ask, and so this would be about trying to create that time and place. I will likely be wanting to pick a few teenage brains over the summer, so young people of Revive be warned!
How has pregnancy changed how you see God?
Psalm 139:13 and Jeremiah 1:5 have taken on new meaning, as this new person is being knit together in my womb. I don’t believe that God controls every little detail of our lives, and I know that baby will be a glorious accident of mine and Mike’s genes, but I trust that just as God has held us so he already holds our child.
I am also gaining a new understanding of what it means to love unconditionally. I don’t know what our baby will be or do, but I still feel this overwhelming sense of love for them, a love which depends on nothing except the fact that they are my child, and I think that is a reflection of how God feels about us. I’ve always known that God loves us simply because we are his children, but I think I am beginning to feel it in the very depths of me.
What is the DNA of Revive you would like to keep?
I love the openness of Revive, both its open-heartedness towards people and it’s open-mindedness towards ideas. I would like to carry that with me wherever I go, and to try to model and encourage it in whatever church I find myself.
I have also discovered a love for decaf Earl Grey, which is surely the fuel if not the DNA of Revive!
Anything else to say before goodbye?
Just that this isn’t really goodbye. Maternity leave doesn’t mean that Mike and I will be disappearing completely, only that I’ll be stepping back from the more official side of things for a little while. Revive feels very much like our church family and so we will be around as much as we can be, and we can’t wait to introduce baby to all of you.
Please hold us in prayer as we prepare for life to be turned upside down.
With great love and every blessing,